If your baby has been drooling and biting more, having trouble sleeping (more than usual) or acting cranky (again, more cranky than usual, that is!), it could be teething. It’s time to get your teething hacks in order and watch your fingers…because those puppies are comin’ for them!
In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month – a nationwide program that brings awareness to the importance of good oral hygiene habits starting at an early age – Magnolia Dental partnered with local author and illustrator team, Books with Purpose, to share some interesting facts about your baby’s sharp little chompers, plus some tips for caring for them:
Teeth Begin Before Birth
Tooth buds, the masses of tissue that eventually form into teeth, develop during pregnancy as early as the sixth week! According to Dr. Basom, by the time your baby is born, the tooth buds of the primary and some permanent teeth have developed.
Baby Teeth Matter
Taking good care of your baby’s pearly whites is important because baby teeth don’t just help your child chop their food! Primary teeth support speech development, jaw formation, and save space in the jaw to guide permanent teeth into place. A beautiful, healthy smile also helps a child build self-esteem.
Binkies vs Thumb Sucking
Your baby will probably decide on their own whether they prefer a binkie or thumb sucking. The use of pacifiers is encouraged by dentists over thumb sucking because of course a binkie is not attached to your child, making it an easier habit to break. “Thumb sucking beyond the age of 2 may lead to a skeletal discrepancy (change in shape) in the mouth which could require the use of orthodontics later on,” Dr. Basom explained.
We know, it can be a challenge to get their teeth brushed. The kicking, the screaming, the fierce dance moves they perform to avoid contact with their mouth and the toothbrush. But… the American Dental Association recommends that kids’ teeth, both primary and permanent, are brushed twice a day for two minutes at a time. For those under the age of three, begin with a small amount of toothpaste (no more than the size of a grain of rice). Find ways to make brushing a fun part of your baby’s routine through singing songs or reading books like Tickle Your Teeth by Lauren Kelley to help avoid resistance towards this healthy lifelong habit.
Breastmilk, infant formula, and baby food can cause plaque on baby teeth just as plaque can build on adult teeth through the foods we eat, so it’s vital not to skip brushing (even if your baby isn’t exactly excited about it). To further guard against cavities, choose smart snacks for your baby once he or she is eating foods. Simple whole foods are a better choice over sugary, sticky, and processed foods. Fruit pouches are convenient and are ok at times (for say, keeping them occupied while your friend tells you how rowdy that book club got), but some contain more sugar than whole foods which can create an acidic environment in the mouth which can lead to tooth decay over time. When possible, choose foods like plain yogurt or cheese.
Cavities Can Happen
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. Genes can play a role in whether or not your child is prone to cavities. Even with good brushing, flossing and eating habits, cavities can happen (so don’t be hard on yourself if it does). If you see a dark area or black spot on your baby’s tooth, or if your baby is pulling at a tooth, or holding his or her cheek in pain, it may be a sign that there is a cavity. Sure, it may not have been the way you wanted to spend a gorgeous Friday, trucking to the dentist with the possibility of getting a cavity filled, but it is important to follow the advice of your dentist and not delay in treating cavities. On a microscopic level, a cavity is a bacterial infection and it can spread. Just like an ear infection, you don’t want it to go untreated since it can cause damage to the permanent tooth underneath, lead to nutritional deficiencies if dental pain impacts the child’s ability to eat, or other serious complications.
First Trip to the Dentist
Good brushing habits (twice a day) and regular visits to the dentist (twice a year) are essential for creating a lifetime of healthy smiles for your baby. Your infant can see the dentist anytime after their teeth begin erupting, but make sure you book an appointment before the age of 1 (no, this is not a joke). Try to find a dental practice that provides a loving environment for your baby’s first dental visit, and programming that supports excitement around oral health which will come in handy as your little one grows.
For more Books with Purpose books that support great oral health habits, visit: https://www.books-with-purpose.com/our-books-final
For free healthy habits coloring pages and crafts from illustrator Emmy Mitchell, visit: https://www.books-with-purpose.com/activities
To learn more about children’s dental care and the Magnolia Dental Kid’s Club, visit: https://mymagnoliasmile.com/kids-club/